Compared to older cohorts, emerging adults are more susceptible to unemployment as they enter the labor market. In the context of increasing higher education access, an unstable economic climate is leaving a growing number of South African graduates unemployed. After the exploration that is typically part of higher education, unemployment could influence emerging adult graduates’ ability to make adult commitments. The aim of the current study was to gain both a detailed and a holistic perception of the developmental impact of unemployment during the transition to adulthood. A sample of 12 participants were recruited to partake in individual interviews. A narrative analysis revealed six common plotlines of progression and regression as the participants approached the goals they had set to achieve as adults. The findings illustrate the inability to accomplish adult commitments as a contributing factor in explaining the decrease in subjective well-being associated with unemployment specific to emerging adults.